EppsNet Archive: Jim McCarthy

Teaching Computer Science: Say Your Ideas Out Loud

[I learned about Scary Ideas from Jim and Michele McCarthy — PE] I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . . “The main thing I wanted to tell you is that you’ve got to say your ideas out loud . . . “A scary idea is not an idea that’s going to scare people when they hear it, it’s an idea that you don’t want to say because you’re afraid of how people will react to it. Maybe they’ll think you’re crazy. “Here’s a couple examples of scary ideas. “You recognize the speaker in this video?” Everyone does. “Ok, let’s see what he has to say.” I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. “Keep in mind that he’s… Read more →

What Does a Programmer Do?

I was asked to give a talk last week to a high school computer science class on “What Does a Programmer Do?” (I’m indebted to Jim McCarthy for the “lords and ladies of logic” section.)   Programming is problem solving. At the highest level, the problem that programmers solve is that people want to be able to do things with computers that they can’t do. And by computers, I don’t mean just the kind of computers you have on the desks here, I mean phones, watches, cars . . . more and more different kinds of devices are running software. So one good thing about being a programmer is that pretty much every field of endeavor now uses software and data. You can work at a tech company like Microsoft or Google or Twitter or Facebook, but you can also work in healthcare, finance, education, sports . . . you… Read more →

I Think We Are Kidding Ourselves

More people have ascended bodily into heaven than shipped great software on time. — Jim McCarthy On the other hand, the number of people on LinkedIn claiming to have a demonstrated ability to lead software projects to successful completion, on time and on budget, as well as the number of companies seeking to hire such people, is infinite. Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

Problems

If you tolerate it, you insist on it. If you insist on it, it will be supplied. If you see a problem, you own it. If you ignore a problem, you’ll see more of it. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your Head Read more →

The Best Measure of Truth

If you act as if something is true, you will shortly find out whether it is or isn’t. Any reduction of effort or increase of abundance you enjoy as a consequence of your new belief is the best measure of its truth. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your Head Read more →

Jim McCarthy on Steve Jobs

He was utterly intolerant and disdainful of, and even mean spirited about, mediocrity. Not a designer himself, but a sublime critical thinker, he totally focused his life’s work on design perfection. This intensity, obsessiveness, and his total lack of compassion about others’ inferior thinking resulted – over a period of about 25 years, in five or six truly, climactically great products (the reader – as an exercise – may figure out what they were, and why they make the cut.) — Jim McCarthy Read more →

What You Say You Believe

What you say you believe isn’t as important as what you believe. And, obviously, you don’t believe what you don’t enact. Although describing, proselytizing, or otherwise articulating your beliefs in media other than your own acts can be fun, it is seldom very useful to you or anyone else. Babbling on about a value is a distraction from attaining it. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your Head Read more →

If You Tolerate It, You Insist On It

Whenever you perceive that a virtue is missing or that a vice is present, you either tolerate the situation or try to change it. If you cannot “fix” it, you can at least withdraw your participation. The problem with tolerating the absence of virtue or the existence of vice is that this choice summons them into your life. You might tell yourself stories about the problem you perceive and your tolerance of it: That’s just the way it is in the real world. Others will not listen even-handedly to your perceptions and advice. It’s not your place to say truthful but difficult things. The problem lies in another department. You are not reading the situation correctly. You may not be able to discern beauty from ugliness or efficiency from waste, and your ignorance will be exposed. You’ll be rejected or ridiculed. You will look dumb if you ask for help… Read more →

In a Conference Room

Stop being false just because you’re in a conference room. Start actively engaging. For example, when you think an idea someone states, or one a group adopts, is a poor one, investigate it. Either you don’t understand it, or it is a poor idea. Stop everything, and find out why someone would say such a thing at this time. What was the purpose? What is the meaning of the contribution? Your teammates will have to live with your inquisitive engagement. You will be present, and you will engage them. You will see them. You will hear what they say. You will seek information about their emotional states, beliefs, plans, and skills. You will connect with other team members to the maximum extent possible. They will have to adjust to your strategy and its results or else not invite you–which would be fine. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your… Read more →

Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

It is essential not to profess to know, or seem to know, or accept that someone else knows, that which is unknown. Almost without exception, the things that end up coming back to haunt you are things you pretended to understand but didn’t early on. At virtually every stage of even the most successful software projects, there are large numbers of very important things that are unknown. It is acceptable, even mandatory, to clearly articulate your ignorance, so that no one misunderstands the corporate state of unknowingness. If you do not disseminate this “lucid ignorance,” disaster will surely befall you. Human nature is such that we dislike not knowing things that are important to our well being. Since there is so much we don’t know in a software project, the nearly universal tendency among developers and their managers is to gloss over or even deny altogether the extent of their… Read more →

SharedVision

The principal effects of SharedVision derive from the group’s continuous validation that an object of compelling beauty and importance can be, and will be, achieved by its combined thinking and intense, concerted action. Attempting a goal like that typically found in a vision statement of this class of team requires substantial ambition. The SharedVision object is something that each team member would most likely see as impossible to attain on an individual basis, were it not for the ongoing validation and sustained support of the other team members. The object itself is — or at least becomes — loaded with supreme meaning for the team. Nothing is more important. The team’s commitment to attaining the SharedVision object is a passionate one. So animated is the team’s fervor that the only real difference between a shared delusion and a SharedVision is the rational, step-by-step behavior of those experiencing the vision, which… Read more →

Ask for Help

Asking in time of trouble means you waited too long to ask for help. Ask for help when you are doing well. — Jim and Michele McCarthy Read more →

Offer What You Have

Offer what you have, disclosing what you feel and think, connecting only with those who do likewise. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your Head Read more →

Ask for Help

This is the first, and most important, lesson of teams: ask for help. So we live by this lesson. If they don’t ask us for help, they never learn who we are and what we have to give. It can be frustrating for us, and hard for them, but not as frustrating and hard for both as us wasting ourselves upon people who do not want what we urge upon them. — Jim McCarthy Read more →

Conditions

What actions you take, you believe in. What commitments you make, you keep. What resources you have, you use. What words you say, you believe to be true. What you create, you intend to be great. — Jim and Michele McCarthy Read more →

Aggregating Intellect

A team can aggregate the intellects and elevate the nobility of the group as a whole to create a greatness of effect comparable to, or even surpassing, any individual genius. — Jim McCarthy Read more →

In Creative Work, the More Ideas the Better

Simply encouraging “idea-consciousness” can have a profound impact. For a group to realize they are working with too few ideas is a tremendous step. — Jim McCarthy Read more →

Twitter: 2010-05-10

RT @mccarthyjim1 In almost every case, action will produce many times more results than planning. http://post.ly/dMei # RT @eddiepepitone: In honor of my mom I burnt a meal, ignored myself and accused my dad of aloofness. # RT @eddiepepitone: The only thing stopping me today is my childhood, my genetics, my income, my innate laziness and my parole officer. # Read more →

The Authority of Ideas

A team committed to providing great products or services on time will shift its point of view on authority. It will move from viewing authority as emanating from bosses to viewing authority as emanating from ideas and from the nurturing and championship of an ecology of ideas. — Jim McCarthy Read more →

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